6 Best Student Loan Refinance/Consolidation Options For 2021

When I graduated college, I left with a diploma and $35,000 in student loans.

I was one of the fortunate ones because most of mine were Federally-subsidized Stafford loans, which meant I had low-interest rates and could consolidate them if I wanted to.

These days, a lot of college graduates leave with a lot more debt with interest rates that are a lot higher than they need to be. When you refinance, you can often get lower rates and simplify your debt situation to one loan servicer. Instead of sending out multiple payments, you send one – and you pay it off faster because the loan might be cheaper.

If you haven’t consolidated or refinanced your loans recently, now might be time to take a look.

Why Refinance?
The two biggest reasons are a lower interest rate and to simplify your finances.

When you refinance, and you would typically consolidate your loans too, you can get discounts based on what the current market rates are. You can also get discounts for automatic payments, on-time payment history, and other incentives. You never know until you start researching what your options are and this page can give you a list of the best companies to try to refinance with.

Simplifying your debt payments can be useful as well because it’s easier to manage one loan vs. several. When I graduated, I had a few servicers and it’s as just easier to deal with one. The payments were slightly lower because of a lower interest rate and I dealt with one company rather than multiple.

Credible

Credible isn’t itself a bank but a comparison engine that will get you rates from multiple banks, including some of the banks on this list. If you want to go to once place and enter your information once, this is the one for you.

Credible will compare rates from Advantage Education Loans, Brazos, Citizens Bank, College Ave, Earnest, EDvestinU, iHELP, MEFA< PenFed, RISLA and Splash Financial in just two minutes. There are fixed and variable rates plus loan terms anywhere from 5 – 25 years with undergraduate and graduate eligibility.

They also offer student and personal loans from up to 10 lenders, so if you’re still in school and need a loan, they may be able to help in that department.

And we’ve negotiated a $200 cash bonus with you refinance with a bank through Credible.

Check your rates in minutes with Credible
(checking rates will not affect your credit score)

Earnest

Earnest was founded in September 2013 by Louis Beryl, former partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, and Ben Hutchinson, a finance executive and Head of Commercial Finance at BBC.

Earnest offers personal loans and loan refinancing, like many companies on this list, but they don’t rely strictly on credit scores and debt ratios. They have a proprietary algorithm that takes into consideration around a hundred thousand data points that include education, spending and saving habits.

The average Earnest user who consolidates and refinances with Earnest saves $30,939.

Earnest: Terms & Rates

  • Loan Terms: 5 – 20 years
  • Variable APR: starting at 1.99% (includes 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Fixed APR: starting at 2.89% (includes 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Minimum Loan Amount: $5,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: No maximum

Earnest: Borrower Eligibility Requirements

  • State Residency: Any state except Delaware, Kentucky, and Nevada. They do not offer variable rate loans in Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.
  • Qualifying Degrees: Undergraduate & Graduate
  • Loan Types: Private & Federal
  • Minimum Credit Score: 650
  • Minimum Income: None, but must be currently employed or with a signed job offer
  • Cannot be delinquent on current student loans
  • You are enrolled less than half time and will complete your degree and the end of the semester
  • No GPA requirement

Check your rates in minutes on Earnest
(checking rates will not affect your credit score)

Laurel Road

Laural Road Logo

Laurel Road offers savings of up to $20,000+ on average to those who refinance and you can check your rates in minutes. They are a full-service bank that offers student loans, mortgages, personal loans, and other banking products. It just so happens they are also one of the leaders in student loans as well. The average Laurel Road client who refis will save $20,000 on the life of their loans.

Laurel Road: Terms & Rates

  • Loan Terms: 5 – 20 years
  • Variable APR: 1.89% – 5.90% (includes 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Fixed APR: 2.8% – 6.00% (includes 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Minimum Loan Amount: $5,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: No maximum

Laurel Road: Borrower Eligibility Requirements

  • State Residency: Any state
  • Qualifying Degrees: Undergraduate & Graduate
  • Loan Types: Private & Federal
  • Minimum Credit Score: 660
  • Minimum Income: None, but must be currently employed or with signed job offer
  • Cannot be delinquent on current student loans
  • Can apply with Cosigner (no consigner required)
  • Can apply while still enrolled in school
  • No GPA requirement

Get a cash bonus of $200 when you refinance your student loans with Laurel Road!

Check your rates in minutes on Laurel Road
(checking rates will not affect your credit score)

SoFi

SoFi Logo

SoFi, short for Social Finance, and they are a finance company, who got their start matching alumni benefactors with existing students to help fund their education. Now they do traditional loans and they take into consideration factors outside of just credit scores, including income, cash flow, employment history, and other non-credit report factors.

SoFi clients save thousands when they refinance to a shorter term.

Sofi: Terms & Rates

  • Loan Terms: 5 – 20 years
  • Variable APR: 1.87% – 11.66% depending on repayment terms (includes 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Fixed APR: 5.23% – 11.26% depending on repayment terms (includes 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Minimum Loan Amount: $5,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: No maximum

Sofi: Borrower Eligibility Requirements

  • State Residency: Any state
  • Qualifying Degrees: Undergraduate & Graduate
  • Loan Types: Private & Federal
  • Minimum Credit Score: Good/Excellent
  • Minimum Income: None, but must be currently employed or with signed job offer
  • Cannot be delinquent on current student loans
  • Can apply with Cosigner (no consigner required)
  • Can apply while still enrolled in school
  • No GPA requirement

Get a $100 cash bonus when you refinance your student loans with SoFi!

Check your rates in minutes on SoFi
(checking rates will not affect your credit score)

LendKey

LendKey is one of the older companies on the list having been founded in October of 2007 with a less well known name, Fynanz Inc. They started as a peer-to-peer loan platform for student loans but since moved to refinancing student loans via partnerships with credit unions and community banks.

They offer private student loans and student loan refinancing through this model, offering loans through their credit union and community bank partners.

LendKey: Terms & Rates

  • Loan Terms: 5 – 20 years
  • Variable APR: starting at 1.99% (includes 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Fixed APR: starting at 2.95 (includes 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Minimum Loan Amount: $5,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: $125K Undergrad, $250K Graduate, $300K Medical

LendKey: Borrower Eligibility Requirements

  • State Residency: Any state except Maine, North Dakota, Nevada & West Virginia
  • Qualifying Degrees: Undergraduate & Graduate
  • Loan Types: Private & Federal
  • Minimum Credit Score: 680
  • Minimum Income: $24,000/year and currently employed
  • Cannot be delinquent on current student loans
  • Can apply with Cosigner (no consigner required)
  • Cannot apply while still enrolled in school
  • No GPA requirement

LendKey clients see savings of over $16,000!

Check your rates in minutes on LendKey
(checking rates will not affect your credit score)

CommonBond

CommonBond was founded in November 2011 and they offer undergraduate loans, graduate & MBA loans, as well as student loan refinancing. CommonBond is the only lender that offers a 10-year hybrid loan, which is a fixed interest rate for the first five years and then a variable rate for the next five years. 

Commonbond: Terms & Rates

  • Loan Terms: 5 – 20 years
  • Variable APR: not stated – but it doesn’t affect your credit to find out your rate
  • Fixed APR: not stated – but it doesn’t affect your credit to find out your rate
  • Minimum Loan Amount: $5,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: $500,000

Commonbond: Borrower Eligibility Requirements

  • State Residency: Any state except Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, and Vermont
  • Qualifying Degrees: Undergraduate & Graduate
  • Loan Types: Private & Federal
  • Minimum Credit Score: 660
  • Minimum Income: None, but must be currently employed
  • Cannot be delinquent on current student loans
  • Can apply with Cosigner (no consigner required)
  • Cannot apply while still enrolled in school
  • No GPA requirement

Get a cash bonus of $150 when you refinance your student loans with CommonBond!

Check your rates in minutes on CommonBond
(checking rates will not affect your credit score)

Final Verdict

If you have any student loans, private or federal, you should review what your options are because you can save a lot of money by refinancing them.

If you are looking to take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, this is the only case where you don’t want to refinance or consolidate. When you do so, you turn a federal loan into a private one. This would eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness as an option.

Refinance today, get some cash back, and lower your payments today!

I try to keep the rates as up to date as possible but since they change constantly, always consult the bank or company’s website for the latest rates.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Oliver Darrow says

    Hello Mr. Wang. I am the father to a daughter who went to a Photography Institute in Massachusetts. I signed on a bad loan to get her in. FedLoan. It seems they have the worst reviews and the lowest rating from the Better Business Bureau. They are a bad servicer and I should never have qualified for the debt forgiveness program, because technically I would have to work for some kind of public service entity to qualify. Well, regardless, I was pulled into what I thought was a debt “forgiveness” program that ultimately would have us paying three times the amount of the original loan over a 25 year period. No forgiveness there. And with the new year in place, Student Loan Services is already chasing me down to reevaluate my monthly payment which could in theory, go up. So I am wondering the best approach to take to receive offers from providers to assume the debt and get me into a more manageable, perhaps fixed rate payment. I have been making $600/month payments for 5 months with nothing towards principal. Over the 25-year term, I would ultimately pay $178,000 on a $72,000 note. I cannot afford to sustain that for any length of time. I would appreciate your guidance. Thank you. -oliver

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